In May this year, a pilot course saw 15 third year student nurses from the university take part in a learning experience designed to meet their individual learning objectives in a supportive and meaningful manner.
In a change from previous arrangements, when students undertook a one day placement with one of the hospice’s clinical nurse specialists, the students took part in a structured learning experience that included an online preparatory workbook about hospice care, followed by a taught day held at the hospice’s education centre.
During the day students, who were specialising in adult and mental health nursing, learnt about effective symptom control, family support and bereavement, and experienced the holistic approach of the hospice’s multi-disciplinary team.
The students then had the opportunity to see theory put into practice by spending a day with a member of the multi-disciplinary team, for example with one of the specialist palliative doctors and nurses, counsellors or chaplains.
Pastoral care of the students is at the heart of the new education programme and therefore students took part in a half day debrief session to ensure that each participant had met their learning objectives and to address any unresolved issues.
Vanessa Gibson, Community Team Manager, said: “In the past, we had felt that the single day placements offered to students were sometimes insufficient for the level of need being expressed. Some of the students who spent a day with our clinical nurse specialists didn’t really know what they wanted to gain from the day and were unprepared for the emotional aspects of the experience.
“We were delighted that the University of Worcester were so enthusiastic about working with us to develop a new palliative care programme for students studying adult and mental health nursing. Following the success of this pilot, we are planning a further session in the autumn which will be offered to students studying adult, child or mental health nursing, with a view to holding sessions regularly in the future.”
The pilot sessions received high praise from the students that took part, who explained how the taught day enabled them to be much better prepared for the experience of shadowing a member of the multi-disciplinary team. One student commented: “I found the mock multi-disciplinary team meeting very helpful, realistic and insightful, and particularly appreciated learning about the hospice’s holistic approach to end of life care planning.”